People Operations | Management

Employment of Minors

A number of laws place important restrictions on an organization’s ability to employ persons younger than 18 years of age. Almost all minors under the age of 18 are subject to California’s child labor protections.


Under the California   Labor Code ,   “minor” means any person younger than the age of 18 years who is required to attend school under the provisions of the   Education Code   and includes minors younger than age 6 years. Nonresidents of the state who would be subject to California’s compulsory education laws if they were residents are also considered minors and are subject to all the requirements and protections of the Labor Code. The Labor Code definition means, for example, that high school graduates younger than the age of 18, who are not subject to the compulsory education laws, are entirely excluded from permit requirements, work hour restrictions and all occupational prohibitions. However, under federal regulation high school graduates may not be employed in an occupation prohibited to minors younger than age 18 unless they have also completed a bona fide course of training in that occupation. Dropouts are still subject to California’s compulsory education laws and thus are subject to all state child labor requirements.


Emancipated minors are subject to all of California’s child labor laws, except that they may apply for a work permit without their parents’ permission.


School attendance requirements.   Minors aged 6 through 15 years must attend school full time unless the minor meets one of the following criteria:

Is a high school graduate.

Attends an approved alternative school.

Is tutored.

Is on an approved leave of absence.

Has transferred from another state with less than 10 days left in the school year.

Has justifiable personal reasons requested by the parent and approved by the principal, including illness, court appearances, religious observances and retreats, funerals or employment conferences.

In rare circumstances, 14- and   15-year-olds   enrolled in Work Experience Education may be granted a permit to work full time during school hours.


Minors aged 16 and 17 years old who have not graduated from high school or who have not received a certificate of proficiency may opt to attend   part-time   classes. Those who are regularly employed must attend continuation classes for at least four hours per week. Those not regularly employed must attend continuation classes for at least 15 hours per week. No minor may legally drop out of school entirely.


Schools may excuse the absences of a pupil who holds an Entertainment Work Permit or who participates with a   not-for-profit   arts organization in a performance for a public school audience.


Permits.   Except in limited circumstances defined in law and summarized as follows, all minors younger than 18 years of age employed in the state of California must have a permit to work . The federal   FLSA   also requires a certificate of age for working minors. The state’s Permit to Employ and Work is accepted as the federal certificate of age. The minor’s school issues the Permit to Employ and Work.


Employers must have a Permit to Employ and Work on file and available for inspection by school and labor officials at all times. The form contains permits both to employ and to work. Permits are always required, even when school is not in session. Permits are issued for specific employment at a specified address. Permits contain the maximum number of hours a minor may work in a day and week, the range of hours during the day that a minor may work, any occupational limitations and any additional restrictions imposed at the school’s discretion.


Permits may not be issued that violate any provision of law. Thus, all restrictions on minimum ages for employment in various occupations and all work hour restrictions must be strictly followed. Neither school nor labor officials are empowered to waive, at any time or under any circumstances, any minimum labor standard established by law or regulation.

Minors work with the permission of the local school district, and no law requires schools to issue permits for the maximum hours allowed by law or for every occupation for which a minor might be eligible.


Thus, depending on the minor’s particular circumstances or local district policy, school officials may impose additional restrictions at their discretion. Any violation of such special restrictions subjects the permit to revocation. Any person empowered to issue a permit who knowingly certifies false information on a permit commits a misdemeanor.


A Permit to Employ and Work may be denied or canceled at any time by school officials or the Labor Commissioner, whenever the conditions for the issuance of the certificate or permit do not exist, no longer exist or have never existed. School officials who determine that the schoolwork or the health of the minor is impaired by the employment may revoke the permit.

Permits issued during the school year expire five days after the opening of the next succeeding school year and must be renewed.


Inclusions.   Federal and state occupational restrictions are such that in most cases minors must be at least 14 years of age to begin working. Any minor who is at least 12 years of age may be issued a permit by school officials; however, few occupations are available to such a minor.


A minor enrolled in a Work Experience Education program must obtain a work permit, and his or her employer must possess a permit to employ. The minor must be at least 16 years of age to be enrolled in a Work Experience Education program, with certain exceptions as specified in the Education Code.


An apprentice in a bona fide   apprenticeship-training   program must have the standard Permit to Employ and Work issued by his or her respective school. Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age.


Parents who employ their children in any occupation permitted to minors, including industrial, mercantile or similar commercial enterprises, must obtain the standard Permit to Employ and Work. This means that parents must obtain permits for the employment of their minor children in any enterprise, unless they employ their minor children in agriculture or domestic labor.


Minors visiting from another state (or country, if eligible to work in the United States) who wish to work in California must obtain the standard Permit to Employ and Work, and their employers must possess such permit. These permits may be issued by the local school district in which the minor will reside while visiting.


Emancipated minors must have the standard Permit to Employ and Work, and their employers must possess this permit. Emancipated minors are those persons younger than age 18 who have entered into a valid marriage (whether or not the marriage was dissolved), are on active duty with the armed services or possess a Declaration of Emancipation issued by the superior court. Minors who are declared emancipated by the court must be at least 14 years of age. Emancipated minors may apply for a Permit to Employ and Work without parental consent, but they are subject to all other child labor laws.


So-called   dropouts younger than age 18 are still subject to California’s compulsory education laws and must, therefore, have a permit in order to work.


Exclusions.   High school graduates or minors who have been awarded a certificate of proficiency are exempt from the permit requirements. Minors do not need to attain a minimum age to graduate from high school. However, to qualify for a certificate of proficiency, the minor must be at least 16 years of age, or must have been enrolled for one academic year in the 10th grade or must have completed one academic year of enrollment in the 10th grade at the end of the semester when the test was taken.


Parents or guardians who employ their children in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture or domestic labor on or in connection with property the parent or guardian owns, operates or controls do not need permits. However, these minors may not be employed during school hours, even when they are younger than school age.


Self-employed   minors.   Minors who are irregularly employed in odd jobs in private homes, such as baby- sitting, lawn mowing and leaf raking, do not need to obtain a Permit to Employ and Work.

Minors engaged in the sale and distribution of newspapers or magazines are often   self-employed and thus do not require permits. Minors who are at least 14 years of age and employed to deliver newspapers to consumers do not require permits, whether or not they are   self-employed.


Minors of any age who participate in any horseback riding exhibition, contest or event, whether or not they receive payment for services or prize money, do not need to obtain a Permit to Employ and Work.


Minors younger than 16 years of age are prohibited from participating in any rough stock rodeo event, circus or race. “Rough stock rodeo event” means any rodeo event operated for profit or operated by other than a nonprofit organization in which unbroken,   little-trained   or imperfectly trained animals are ridden or handled by the participant. It includes, but is not limited to, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding. “Race” means any speed contest between two or more animals that are on a course at the same time and that is operated for profit or operated by other than a nonprofit organization.


State and local agencies that directly employ minors are not included in the Labor Code’s child labor provisions and are exempt from permit requirements. State and local agencies must be expressly included in the Labor Code to be subject to its requirements. State and local agencies are, however, covered by the federal FLSA and must meet all of its requirements.


Entertainment work permits.   Minors aged 15 days to 18 years who are employed in the entertainment industry must have a permit to work, and employers must have a permit to employ; both permits are issued by the DLSE. These permits are also required for minors making phonographic recordings or who are employed as advertising or photographic models. Permits are required even when the entertainment is noncommercial in nature.

There is no fee to obtain an Entertainment Work Permit. The permit can be obtained through the online application process, by mail or in person.


The 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit is subject to the following requirements:


Minor must be between the ages of 15 days and 16 years.

Minor must have never applied for a 6 Month Entertainment Work Permit.

Minor must not have previously applied for a 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit.


There is a fee for the 10 Day Temporary Entertainment Work Permit.

Employers intending to employ minors in the entertainment industry must complete the Application for Permission to Employ Minors in the Entertainment Industry and submit it, along with proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage, to any   DLSE   office.


Obtaining permits to employ and work.   Prior to permitting the minor to work, employers must possess a valid Permit to Employ and Work. The minor’s school issues the permit. In typical circumstances, after an employer agrees to hire a minor, the minor then obtains from his or her school a brief form called Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit. The application is completed by the minor and the employer and signed by the minor’s parent or guardian and the prospective supervisor.


After returning the completed and signed application to the school, the school officials may then issue the Permit to Employ and Work.


A minor employed in the entertainment industry must have an Entertainment Work Permit issued by the DLSE. The employer of such a minor must have a Permit to Employ Minors in the Entertainment Industry, which is also issued by the DLSE.


Minors who attend a charter school.   A minor who attends a charter school and wishes to work must obtain the standard Permit to Employ and Work, and the employer must possess the permit. Either the minor’s school or the authority that granted the school’s charter (normally the local school district) may issue the permit.


Wages.   Minors must be paid at least the minimum wage and applicable overtime rates established by the California IWC. Employers who are subject to the federal FLSA (and most are) must pay the applicable federal minimum wage and overtime rates. Whenever state and federal wage standards differ, the higher wage must always be paid.


Required payment of adult wage rates.   High school graduates or equivalents must be paid commensurate with adults when they perform the same quantity, quality and classification of work. This includes wage rates that are above the minimum wage.


Minors participating in   Work Experience Education   programs who work between 10:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. (an extension of hours that requires the express approval of parents and school officials) must be paid at least the adult minimum wage for any work performed during those hours.


Minors aged 16 and 17 who are permitted to work 48 hours in a week must be paid any applicable overtime pay.


Subminimum wages.   The IWC Orders state that minors may not be paid less than 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, rounded to the nearest 5 cents, provided that the number of minors employed at said lesser rate do not account for more than 25 percent of the total number of persons regularly employed in the same establishment. An employer with less than 10 regular employees may employ up to three minors at the lesser rate. The 25 percent limitation does not apply during school vacations. An overtime premium based on the regular rate of pay must be paid when overtime is worked.


Federal opportunity wage.   Amendments to the FLSA also provide a new subminimum opportunity wage for youth. The opportunity wage, effective Oct. 1, 1996, must be at least $4.25 per hour and applies only to workers younger than 20 years of age during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after the employee is hired. It is unlawful for an employer to displace a current employee or reduce his or her work hours or benefits to pay the opportunity wage.


Federal opportunity wage and IWC learner and minor rates.   In order to pay a subminimum wage, a California employer who is also subject to the FLSA must determine if the employment is eligible for a subminimum wage under state law and federal law simultaneously. If the employment violates any state requirement for a subminimum wage, then the state minimum wage must be paid even though the employment meets all federal subminimum wage requirements. Likewise, if the employment violates any federal requirement for a subminimum wage, the federal minimum wage must be paid even though the employment meets all state subminimum wage requirements. Thus, the employer’s ability to pay a subminimum wage under state law will be limited by overlapping federal opportunity wage requirements and vice versa.


In a special case in which a statute overrides the applicable IWC Order (Order No. 10 in this case), student employees, camp counselors or program counselors of an organized camp, regardless of age, may be paid a weekly salary amounting to 85 percent of the minimum wage for a   40-hour week, even if they work more than 40 hours in a week. This provision does   not   exempt employers from the maximum work hour limits for minors established in Labor Code Section 1391. Thus, the only savings on overtime hours that can apply are those worked by 16- and   17-year-olds,   who are allowed to work up to 48 hours per week. If student employees, camp counselors or program counselors, regardless of age, work less than 40 hours per week, they must be paid at least 85 percent of the minimum wage for each hour worked. An “organized camp” is defined in state law as a site with a program and facilities established for the primary purpose of providing an outdoor group living experience with social, spiritual, educational or recreational objectives, for five days or more during one or more seasons of the year. The term does not include a motel, tourist camp, trailer park, resort, hunting camp, auto court, labor camp, penal or correctional camp, child care institution,   home-finding   agency or any charitable or recreational organization operating a special (i.e., temporary) occupancy trailer park. The organized camp must meet the standards established by the American Camping Association.


The federal FLSA also exempts employees of organized camps (and amusement or recreational establishments, and religious or nonprofit educational conference centers) from minimum wage and overtime requirements if the facility does not operate for more than seven months in any calendar year or if its average receipts for any six months of the preceding year do not exceed 33 1/3 percent of the receipts for the remaining six months of the preceding year. However, private entities that provide services or facilities in a national park, national forest or national wildlife refuge are not exempt from federal wage requirements, unless the services or facilities are related to skiing.


Minimum wage exemptions.   State minimum wage and overtime exemptions are listed in the applicable IWC Order. Employers who are also subject to the federal FLSA should also check with the U.S.


Department of Labor to determine if the state’s exemption coincides with federal requirements.


Employment in hazardous or prohibited occupations.   With rare exceptions, such as the sale and service of alcohol or the transportation of hazardous materials, persons who are at least age 18 may be employed in any occupation. Minors, however, are prohibited from working in numerous occupations that have been declared hazardous or detrimental to health or   well-being,   depending on the occupation and the age of the minor.


The lists of prohibited occupations for each age group are long and address many specific kinds of employment. Thus, any organization that is considering employing a minor must check the relevant lists of identified hazardous occupations for the relevant age of the minor to ensure that the minor will not be working in a prohibited occupation.

By way of just a few examples, minors younger than age 16 may not be employed or permitted to work in the following occupations:

Any occupation declared particularly hazardous for the employment of minors between 16 and 18 years of age or declared detrimental to their health or   well-being.

Any occupation that is declared particularly hazardous for the employment of minors younger than age of 16 years (as defined by federal regulations regarding the use of specified agricultural equipment).

Work performed in or around boiler or engine rooms.

All work requiring the use of ladders, scaffolds or their substitutes.

Baking.

Work in freezers and meat coolers and all work in the preparation of meat.

All occupations in warehouses except office and clerical work.

Manufacturing, mining or processing occupations.


Additional lists of prohibited occupations apply to minors of different age groups.


Hours of work.   Numerous restrictions exist regarding the days, number of hours and time of shift that a minor subject to the work permit system may work.


Compulsory attendance laws generally require   full-time   school attendance for all minors, with some exceptions. Students who have transferred from another state with fewer than 10 days left in a school year are exempted for the remainder of that term. Subject to certain formal procedures, students aged 15 years or older may be eligible to take an approved leave of absence from school for supervised travel, study, training or work that is not available to the pupil under another education option.


Minors aged 16 and 17 years who have not graduated from high school or who have not received a certificate of proficiency remain subject to compulsory attendance laws but may be eligible to attend part- time continuing education classes. Those who are regularly employed must attend continuing education classes for at least four hours per week. Those not regularly employed must attend continuing education classes for at least 15 hours per week. Continuing education is not available to minors aged 6 through 15 years; they must attend school full time unless they are a high school graduate, attend an approved alternative school, are tutored or meet some other special exemption. Daily absences may be routinely excused due to illness or other common occurrences or for other justifiable personal reasons requested by a parent and approved by the principal. A principal could approve daily absences for attendance at an employment conference, but the list of reasons to excuse a daily absence from school does not include permitting a student to work in employment. In rare circumstances of economic duress, where a family can demonstrate need for the earnings of the minor, 14- and   15-year-olds   may be granted a permit to work full time during school hours and will then be enrolled in a Work Experience Education program.


The following table contains information about hours and days of work restrictions by age group.


Age

Hours and Days of Work

 

 

16 and 17

Minors aged 16 and 17 years who are enrolled in Work Experience Education or

 

cooperative vocational education programs approved by the California

 

Department of Education or those conducted by private schools may work on any

 

day after 10:00 p.m., but not later than 12:30 a.m., provided that a parent or

 

guardian and the Work Experience Education coordinator approve. Such

 

employment may not be detrimental to the health, education or welfare of the

 

minor. Minors in these programs who work between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and

 

12:30 a.m. must be paid at least the adult minimum wage for those hours. Minors

 

aged 16 and 17 years old who are enrolled in a   school-approved   Work Experience

 

Education program or cooperative vocational education program may work more

 

than four hours on a school day, but never more than eight hours in any day.

 

Minors aged 16 and 17 years who are employed as personal attendants, as the

 

term is defined in IWC Order No. 15 in effect at the time of employment, may be

 

authorized to work more than four hours on a school day.

 

Minors aged 16 and 17 years who are employed in agricultural packing plants

 

during the peak harvest season may work up to 10 hours on any day that school is

 

not in session. Such employment requires a special permit granted by the Labor

 

Commissioner to the employer operating the packing plant. Permits may be

 

granted only if they do not materially affect the safety and welfare of minor

 

employees and will prevent undue hardship on the employer. The Labor

 

Commissioner may require an inspection of a packing plant prior to granting the

 

permit. Permits may be revoked after reasonable notice is given in writing or

 

immediately if any of its terms or conditions are violated. Applications must be

 

made on a form provided by the Labor Commissioner, and a copy must be posted

 

at the place of employment at the time the application is submitted.

 

 

14 and 15

Minors aged 14 and 15 years who have successfully completed elementary school

 

and are enrolled in a Work Experience Education program may be issued permits

 

for   full-time   employment if the following apply:

 

  It is demonstrated that through the death or desertion of the minor’s father

 

or mother, the family needs the minor’s earnings and sufficient aid cannot

 

be secured in any other manner.

 

  The minor is unable to reside with his or her family, and   full-time

 

earnings are necessary for the support of the minor.

 

  The minor is residing in foster care and, with the written authorization of

 

his or her social worker, probation officer or child protective services

 

worker, the minor wishes to further the goal of obtaining a   court-ordered

 

Declaration of Emancipation or gain knowledge of work skills and habits.

 

School officials must investigate the conditions claimed for issuance of this

 

permit and issue a written judgment that the earnings are needed for the support of

 

the minor and that sufficient aid cannot be secured in any other way. For minors

 

who are in foster care, the school official must sign a statement that he or she has

 

received authorization from the minor’s social worker, probation officer or child

 

protective services worker. These permits may be issued only if the minor’s

 

parent or guardian appears in person before the permit issuer and applies for the

 

permit. In addition, the issuing authority must receive and examine bona fide

 

current school and attendance records, proof of age, a written statement from the

 

prospective employer affirming and describing the prospective employment, and a

 

certificate of health signed by a physician or public medical officer stating that the

 

minor is physically fit for the prospective employment. No fee may be charged to

 

the minor for this certificate. Finally, the parent, guardian or custodian who

 

accompanies the minor must swear an oath that his or her statement of the name,

 

address, birthplace and age of the minor entered on the application are true and

 

correct to the best of his or her knowledge. These permits must expire no later

 

than the end of the school year in which they are issued.

 

Minors aged 14 and 15 years may be employed in   sports-attending   services at

 

professional baseball games until 10:00 p.m. on any night preceding a school day

 

or until 12:30 a.m. on any night preceding a nonschool day. When school is in

 

session, 14- and   15-year-olds   may work a maximum of five hours per day and 18

 

hours per week as professional baseball sports attendants. When school is not in

 

session, they may work a maximum of 40 hours per week. No minor may be

 

permitted to work in professional baseball   sports-attending   services without the

 

prior written approval of either his or her school district or county board of

 

education.

 

 

12 and 13

Minors aged 12 and 13 years may be issued permits to work in the occupations

 

permitted to them on a “regular school holiday, during the regular vacation of the

 

public school . . . and during a specified occasional public school vacation” but

 

not on any regular school day, either before or after school. The phrases referring

 

to vacations and holidays are not precisely defined, but they are usually construed

 

to include weekends during the regular school year. Daily and weekly work hour

 

maximums for 12- and   13-year-olds   who may work during the regular school year

 

are not specified in any statute and are therefore left to local school officials to

 

determine. However, it is very unlikely that any local school official would issue

 

permits allowing 12- and   13-year-olds   to work hours in excess of the three per day

 

and 18 per week accorded to 14- and   15-year-olds.   At no time during the year or

 

under any circumstances may 12- and   13-year-olds   work more than eight hours in

 

a day or 40 hours in a week in the occupations permitted to them.

 

 

Work hour

High school graduates or those awarded a certificate of proficiency may be

exceptions

employed for the same hours as adults and do not require permits.

applicable to all age

School officials may restrict working hours to fewer than the maximum allowed

groups

 

 

by law. Minors work with the permission of school authorities, and no law

 

requires school authorities to issue a permit for the maximum hours allowed by

 

law.

 

Minors aged 12 to 18 years who enter an attendance area from another state with

 

less than 10 days remaining in the school term may be issued permits for the

 

remainder of the school term and are exempt from   full-time   school attendance

 

requirements.

 

 


Parent and guardian employers.   Generally, when parents or guardians employ their minor children they must meet all the child labor requirements imposed on other employers. Parents or guardians who employ their minor children in “manufacturing, mercantile or similar commercial enterprises” must obtain permits to work and employ. The phrase is broadly construed to mean any business in which parents or guardians employ their children.


The only parent or guardian employers who are exempt from California child labor laws are those that employ their minor children in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture or domestic labor on or in connection with premises that the parent or guardian owns, operates or controls. These parent or guardian employers are uniquely exempt from work permit requirements, most work hour restrictions and hazardous occupation prohibitions. Minors may not be employed by their parent or guardian in these exempted occupations during school hours, even if the minor is younger than school age. Under federal law, minors employed on a farm that is owned or operated by his or her parent or person standing in place of the parent are exempt from the FLSA’s child labor provisions, including hazardous occupations, but the minor may not be employed in any mining or manufacturing occupation on the farm.


Parent or guardian employers are entirely exempt from both state and federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Parents or guardians need not pay their employee children any wages at all.


Registration.   Employers, transporters and supervisors of minors engaged in   door-to-door   sales are required to register with the Labor Commissioner. The following definitions apply to the registration:

“Door-to-door   sales” is defined in accordance with Labor Code Section 1286(e) and Section 11706.1 of the California Code of Regulations.

A   door-to-door   sales operation is broadly construed to mean any activity directly or indirectly associated with the   door-to-door   sales activity including, but not limited to, a person’s business activities, recruitment or any activity directly or indirectly involving a minor employed or used in   door-to-door   sales.

“Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, association or other legal entity.

“Employer” means a person subject to   Labor Code Section 1308.3   and Subchapter 10 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations who exercises control, direction or supervision, either directly or indirectly, of minors engaged in   door-to-door   sales operations.

“Transporter and/or supervisor” means an individual subject to   Labor Code Section 1308.2 and Subchapter 10 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations who is at least 18 years of age and does one or more of the following:

o Recruits.   

o Solicits.   

o Hires.

o   Directs.

o   Controls, directly or indirectly, any activity that facilitates a minor’s participation in door-to-door   sales operations.


Registration exceptions.   Registration requirements do not apply to the parent or guardian of the minor; persons acting on behalf of a bona fide trustee of charitable assets or on behalf of a charitable organization; government agencies (including schools); any religious corporation or organization that holds property for religious purposes or any officer, director or trustee thereof who holds property for like purposes; a bona fide cemetery corporation; a bona fide political committee; or a bona fide charitable corporation organized and operated primarily as a religious organization, educational institution, hospital or licensed health care service plan.


Applications for registration as an employer, transporter or supervisor of minors engaged in door-to-door   sales are available from the DLSE’s Licensing and Registration Unit.